Thursday, February 4, 2016 9:38 pm
Nigeria moved three places up as Belgium maintained first place in the latest football world rankings issued on Thursday by the sport’s ruling body FIFA.
With the current 20 best-ranked teams yet to play an A-game in 2016, the top 18 positions remain unchanged for the February edition of the ranking.
But most changes are in the lower regions, as Hungary rose to a best ever 19th.
Nigeria were 66th in the January rankings, but are now 63rd, and they are 12th on the continental ranking, up two places from 14th.
Cote D’Ivoire, down to 28th from 19th, still lead the continent however, with Cape Verde Islands, Algeria, Ghana, Senegal Tunisia and Congo lining up behind them.
Belgium lead the way with an unchanged 1,495 points from Argentina (1,455), Euro title holders Spain (1,370) and world champions Germany (1,347).
Chile, Brazil, Portugal, Colombia, England and Austria complete an unchanged top 10 as none of the top 20 teams has played a game yet in 2016.
But Euro 2016 qualifiers Hungary rose from 20 to 19, and Turkey from 21 to 20 because Ivory Coast lost 19th place in a nine-place slide to 28th.
Palestine were the biggest climbers, up 21 from 110, while Hungary (19, plus 1) and Turkey (20, plus 1) enter the top 20, thanks to Côte d’Ivoire’s exit (28, minus 9).
Hungary’s small increase comes with a massive celebration, reaching their best ever position since the World Ranking was introduced in 1993.
This month, Scotland (46, plus 6) and Norway (50, plus 4) return to the top 50, strengthening UEFA’s presence in the regional composition of the top 50.
UEFA now enjoys representation from 31 of the top 50 teams.
Africa loses two teams this month from the top 50, bringing the new total to six.
The representation of the other confederations in the top 50 has not changed for the February Ranking (CONMEBOL: 8; CONCACAF: 4; AFC: 1; OFC: 0).
The three most impressive teams for February’s ranking all come from Asia.
Palestine (110, plus 21), Saudi Arabia (55, plus 20) and Korea DPR (95, plus 18) enjoyed the biggest advances since the last world ranking.
Teams from Asia, Africa and Central America dominated the list of teams that improved by more than five positions for February.
These include Cape Verde Islands (33, plus 6), Costa Rica (31, plus 6) , Qatar (78, plus 6), Honduras (91, plus 7) and Mozambique (102, plus 7).
The rest are Belize (120, plus 8), Swaziland (127, plus 6), Kuwait (133, plus 8), and Nepal (188, plus 8).
A special mention goes to Rwanda (85, plus 6) in the latest ranking, after The Wasps won three of their six matches played since early January.
They also closed out 2015 with a shock-upset over African heavyweights Côte d’Ivoire in an international friendly played on Dec. 16.
The next FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be published on March 3.